The context is the following question:

https://physics.stackexchange.com/q/242632/84895 (10K link only, partial screenshot here)

As the title stays, this got a lot of downvotes and got put on hold while receiving just rude comments that don't take my post seriously.

Why is it that way? I was serious with the post, tried to pretty much express what is my motivation about asking, and what aspects I'm referring to, but all this got ignored in the comments.

Is it the style in which I wrote? Or is the question at all just off topic?

  • $\begingroup$ What's the supposed physics question there? You're asking how to use a 1.5 V battery to kill someone. That's a) somewhat grisly and b) an engineering task. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Mar 11, 2016 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ and probably more of a biology question than anything else. It is easy to look up what sort of current you can get from a 1.5V battery. The question of whether that voltage and current can be combined in some way to kill someone depends on physiology, not physics. $\endgroup$
    – PhillS
    Mar 11, 2016 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


As PhillS pointed out in a comment, the matter of what it takes to kill a person is a matter of biology/physiology, not physics. So in general, we consider questions asking how to kill a person (or kill an animal, cause brain damage, break a bone, shrink a tumor, etc.) off topic because there is a significant component of them that is not physics.

The way to handle these sorts of questions is to break them up into a biology part and a physics part. In your case: respectively, (1) how much current does it take to kill a person, and (2) how can I tell how much current can be generated from a 1.5V battery? The biology part you can take to the corresponding SE site, though there's no guarantee they will accept it there. As for the current question, you could try to ask here how to determine whether it's possible to produce a certain amount of current from a battery, but even that is kind of on the engineering side, and may still be considered off topic. If you did some research to try to figure out yourself how much current can be produced from a battery, you could ask about some of the physics concepts you encounter in that research, and those sorts of questions would be much more likely to be on topic.

Good of you to come to meta to ask why your question was voted off topic, by the way. We always like to see people considering the community's feedback on their questions, and staying involved.

P.S. Now that I look at it again, the style in which you wrote the question is also not the best, but that's not such a big deal.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, writing skills aren't the best, I know. I have this bad styl even in my native language. And so ofcourse my english textes have the same problem. $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But actually, I can't understand why this is considered a biological or physiological question as I strictly clearified what I'm considering as lehtal in this context. Also someone cleared sadly the comments (by the way there was a 2 part comment where the first part got removed, but the second which says that you shouldn't try yourself what was said in the first part remained...) but there was a comment that would be my accepted answer. It got cleared aswell... it stated a formular that calculated the amount of joules stored in the battery and concluded it wouldn't achieve my requirements. $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Given this bulletpoint: "I'm not interested in the requirements to bilogical kill me. I just left it open, since I wasn't sure what would be the requirement for it. But to make clear this is not about what biological kills me I define now: As beeing considered lethal in this context we assume a current of 50mA required for an exposure time of at least 200ms. Since this is something AFAIK that should be pretty much enough to possibly kill a human. And if not so we just assume it to be. Also lets assume the ressistance of the human part is 10kOhm if this is still relevant." I don't get it..... $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ Even after that clearification the downvotes and complaints about a bilogical aspect remained, but I dont understand why. $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, editing doesn't clear away preexisting downvotes and comments. If you're continuing to get negative feedback, it may be because the whole biological context is completely irrelevant. There's no need to explain that your question is motivated by figuring out whether someone could die from touching a battery. There are also the other issues with this question, as I mentioned; in particular, with it being kind of on the engineering side of things. It may just be off topic here, period. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ So is your answer talking about why it got closed, or about the state it actually is, which still is off-topic? Also now where I have read the answer in a comment before I could reword it as "Would the energy(J!) stored in a 1.5V battery suffice to yield a current of 50mA through a 10kOhm resistor for at least 200ms?" Would this as a a new OP still be offtopic? If it wouldn't: Was it my bad writing styl which made it not clear enough, that this is what I want to know? Or was it some other wrong used technical terms? $\endgroup$
    – Zaibis
    Mar 14, 2016 at 11:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My answer is talking about why the question got closed and how you could try to make it reopenable. My comment was speculating about the current state of the question (though I haven't gone back and looked at it). The new question you just proposed would be badly received for a somewhat different reason: it's a simple calculation request that shows no effort. We expect people to figure out those sorts of things on their own. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 14, 2016 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Why wasn't this just migrated? $\endgroup$ May 24, 2018 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ But biology is just applied physics... $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 17:38

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